The event has gotten so big in fact that it’s needed to get a permit for such a large public gathering, and has gotten the support of Sprint to help keep phones going. Extra life, a gaming charity organization has also been enlisted to ensure things go smoothly. What started as a simple meetup between friends has become an enormous event.
“It’s really shown me the meaning of community,” says Waddell. “It’s bringing people together, and not just gamers. People in their forties, young kids, everyone.”
This is especially poignant considering the toxicity present in gaming culture over the last few years. Pokemon Go seems to be serving as a great counterpoint to that, bringing joy instead of conflict.
He cited the games positive effects on social interaction, and how it’s encouraged people not only to interact face to face more, but to get out of the house and be active.
“As a gamer you spend a lot of time sitting down,” says Waddell. “With Pokemon Go, you take a walk and suddenly you’re meeting a lot of new people.”
Waddell conceded that while the game has had an enormously positive impact, there are improvements that could be made to improve the game, and ensure that it’s more than passing fad.
“The servers definitely need to be fixed, there’s only one,” he said, referencing the apps tendency to crash frequently and require reloading. “They need to add trading and proper battles if it’s going to last as an app.”
Apart from meeting to catch and talk Pokemon, the meet up also seeks to do some good. Participants will be encouraged to use the Charity Miles App, an app that donates to charities for miles run and or biked.
Something that Waddell was very firm about was his desire for the park to be left the way it was found.
“We’re here to have a good time, but we want to respect the park and in the process,” says Waddell.
Overall the event, and others like it that have sprung up since the apps release, represent a massive cultural phenomenon that hasn’t been seen since the peak of Pokemania during the nineties and early 2000’s, bringing together people across generations.
“It’s people of all ages, old fans, new fans, a bit of everyone,” says Waddell.
That’s not something that happens often, and it’s a credit to the power of the Pokemon franchise that it’s been able to have such an impact even two decades into its existence.
The event kicks off at noon on Saturday July 23rd, and will run to 10pm.